This can be a tricky one because what are seemingly healthy options can be misleadingly less than healthy, and yet there are some cereals we may assume are bad for us but may actually be good options.
Here are some tips for navigating the overwhelming cereal aisle:
- Read the labels! Labels provide us with so many important details of cereals, it is just a matter of knowing what to look for. Here are some suggestions:
- Aim for no more than 6 grams of sugar per serving
- Look at the ingredient list. If you can find a cereal where sugar is not the first or second ingredient listed, you are doing well! Ideally the first few ingredients are whole grains.
- Aim to have at least 3 to 4 grams of fiber, and 3 to 4 grams of protein per serving. Fiber and protein help the energy we get from cereals to last longer. If you can find 5 grams of each even better!
- Pay attention to the serving size. If the information is per serving, and each serving is ½ cup and you consume 2 cups, you need to multiple everything by 4. That includes the ‘good’ nutrients like fiber and protein, and also includes nutrients we want to be watchful of such as calories, fat, sugar, and sodium.
- Cereal can be quite costly. Buy in bulk, buy on sale, and buy off-label brands. Typically the ingredients (& taste!) are the same
- One of the cheapest ‘cereal’ options can be old-fashioned oatmeal! My girls love oatmeal with peanut butter and raisins and is much cheaper per serving than boxed cold cereals.
- Having some protein with breakfast can help us feel fuller longer throughout the morning. Some cereals are higher in protein, but 3 to 4 grams per serving, while relatively good for a cereal, may not be adequate for breakfast as a meal. Having a hard- boiled egg, a string cheese, some Greek yogurt on the side, or adding some nuts to a bowl of cereal are all ways of increasing the protein content.
- Specific cereal suggestions – here are some cereals that are less than 6 grams sugar, and moderate in protein and fiber:
- Cheerios (regular. Don’t be fooled by Cheerios protein – check out the amount of added sugar!)
- Honey Bunches of Oats – not incredibly high in protein, so adding a protein on the side will be beneficial
- Kashi Heart to Heart Honey Toasted Oat Cereal
- Shredded Wheat
- Grape Nuts
- Barbara’s Puffins – original or peanut butter